Historic Kentucky Derby winner Country House retired

1 Comment

Country House, the Bill Mott-trained horse who was elevated to first place in the 2019 Kentucky Derby, has been retired after a case of laminitis, or inflammation of the hoof that can cause extreme pain and lameness. He hadn’t been raced since the Derby, which was on May 4.

A 2016 Kentucky-bred colt by Lookin at Lucky out of Quake Lake (War Chant), he made seven starts and picked up two wins. After a 4th place finish in the 2019 Louisiana Derby (G2) and 3rd place finish in the Arkansas Derby (G1), he entered the Churchill Downs starting gate a 65-1 longshot.

Frontrunner Maximum Security led from wire-to-wire but was disqualified several minutes after the race ended for impeding the forward motion of eventual Preakness Stakes winner War of Will. Country House’s jockey Flavien Prat requested the post-race steward’s inquiry that led to Maximum Security’s disqualification. Every horse was bumped up one placing.

Maximum Security was the second-ever disqualification in Kentucky Derby history after 1968 winner Dancer’s Image failed a drug test and was DQ’d long after the race ended. His disqualification was the first in Derby history to be called on the track. As one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby history, Country House paid $132.40 to win.

Country House’s camp quickly shut down a Triple Crown bid when they scratched him from the Preakness due to a cough and signs of a potential burgeoning illness.

In June, the colt went to Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital in Lexington, Ky. for a lameness examination and was diagnosed with “proximal suspensory ligament desmitis on both front fetlocks.” He then experienced complications and was treated for a right leg infection. Later in July, Mott said he didn’t expect Country House to race again as a 3-year-old after the colt stopped showing the same eagerness to train that he did earlier.

Laminitis, also called founder, is a common illness in domesticated horses that can be caused by overfeeding. As defined by the American Association of Equine Practitioners, laminitis is the disruption of blood flow to certain parts of the hoof wall and bones, most commonly in the front feet. In the most severe cases, the bone and wall will separate.

The 2006 Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was euthanized in part because of laminitis brought on by complications after leg surgery.

Owned by Mrs J.V. Shields (also his breeder), E.J.M McFadden and LNJ Foxwoods, he earned just over $2.1 million across his two years of racing.

Forte works out, waits for Belmont Stakes clearance

1 Comment

NEW YORK — Forte, the early Kentucky Derby favorite who was scratched on the day of the race, worked out in preparation for a possible start in the Belmont Stakes on June 10.

Under regular rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Forte worked five-eighths of a mile for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. It was the colt’s second workout since being scratched from the Derby on May 6.

“It seems like he’s maintained his fitness level,” Pletcher said. “It seems like everything is in good order.”

Forte was placed on a mandatory 14-day veterinary list after being scratched from the Derby because of a bruised right front foot. In order to be removed from the list, the colt had to work in front of a state veterinarian and give a blood sample afterward, the results of which take five days.

“There’s protocols in place and we had to adhere to those and we’re happy that everything went smoothly,” Pletcher said. “We felt confident the horse was in good order or we wouldn’t have been out there twice in the last six days, but you still want to make sure everything went smoothly and we’re happy everything did go well.”

Pletcher said Kingsbarns, who finished 14th in the Kentucky Derby, will miss the Belmont. The colt is showing signs of colic, although he is fine, the trainer said.

Another Pletcher-trained horse, Prove Worthy, is under consideration for the Belmont. He also has Tapit Trice, who finished seventh in the Derby, being pointed toward the Belmont.

Judge grants Churchill Downs’ request for summary judgment to dismiss Bob Baffert’s lawsuit

churchill downs

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted Churchill Downs’ motion for summary judgment that dismisses Bob Baffert’s claim the track breached due process by suspending the Hall of Fame trainer for two years.

Churchill Downs Inc. suspended Baffert in June 2021 after his now-deceased colt, Medina Spirit, failed a postrace drug test after crossing the finish line first in the 147th Kentucky Derby. The trainer’s request to lift the discipline was denied in February, keeping him out of the Derby for a second consecutive May.

U.S. District Court Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings ruled in a 12-page opinion issued Wednesday that Churchill Downs’ suspension of Baffert did not devalue his Kentucky trainer’s license. It cited his purse winnings exceeding $1 million at Keeneland in Lexington and stated that his argument “amounts to a false analogy that distorts caselaw.”

Jennings denied CDI’s motion to stay discovery as moot.

The decision comes less than a week after Baffert-trained colt National Treasure won the Preakness in his first Triple Crown race in two years. His record eighth win in the second jewel of the Triple Crown came hours after another of his horses, Havnameltdown, was euthanized following an injury at Pimlico.

Churchill Downs said in a statement that it was pleased with the court’s favorable ruling as in Baffert’s other cases.

It added, “While he may choose to file baseless appeals, this completes the seemingly endless, arduous and unnecessary litigation proceedings instigated by Mr. Baffert.”

Baffert’s suspension is scheduled to end on June 2, but the track’s release noted its right to extend it “and will communicate our decision” at its conclusion.